At first glance, this week’s writing prompt didn’t look at all promising. I mean, really, leprechauns and talking beer steins? Not exactly my thing.
Start a narration that takes place in Ireland and involves a lost leprechaun, a bar keeper and an inanimate object that can talk. (A pint of beer, perhaps, in preparation for the upcoming holiday?)
But for fun, I decided to play along anyway. I thought about some other holidays I enjoy more than St. Patrick’s Day. There’s Easter and Christmas – two of my personal favorites. But they’re also the two biggest holidays of the year, and maybe a little bit overused.
I could have chosen the Fourth of July. It would have been timely, at least.
In the end, I chose Valentine’s Day. For the holiday icons, instead of a leprechaun, I would use Cupid. The barkeeper would become a florist. And the inanimate object would be a box of chocolates. Okay, so Valentine’s Day could end up being just as clichéd as Christmas or Easter. But why not, it’s only a writing exercise, right?
To begin, I needed a place for Cupid’s story to go. So I did a little research into the godling’s mythos to see where he comes from and what stories center around him. I learned some fascinating tidbits, and a story began to form.
I decided to set my story in a modern world situation and therefore, Cupid needed a new name. No one would go by the name “Cupid” unless they enjoyed being laughed at. And his Greek alternative, Eros, isn’t any better.
In the process of renaming the god of romantic love, I stumbled upon the story of Conchobar mac Nessa, an ancient Irish king with a tragic love story all his own. The modern name Conner is derived from this king’s name, and so I had a name.
Conchobar’s tragic love interest was Deirdre. I decided to name the florist in my story after this woman, thereby combining two love tales into one.
I ended up writing a little tale of romance gone bad. A love-triangle where no one wins. I have hopes of sharing this story once I’ve had a chance to clean it up a little. It turned out to be a lot of fun to write.
Writing exercises such as this one can also lead to learning new things. I had to do some research to come up with my story idea. I discovered at least two stories I want to know more about, and when I have time, I’ll read more about Cupid and Psyche and more on the Irish Ulster Cycle.
This just goes to show how a writing exercise is only as good as you make it out to be. Not inspired by the exact letter of the prompt? Try to determine the spirit – or purpose – behind the prompt instead. Make the most of it and have fun. That is, after all, one of the best reasons to be a writer.